04 September 2010

Piracy with Permission

There have been a lot of stories lately about online ads “following us around,” popping up on different sites that use the same big advertising service that has found out something about our interests. But I found this story from the New York Times more thought-provoking:

Remarkably, more than one-third of the two billion views of YouTube videos with ads each week are like TomR35’s “Mad Men” clip — uploaded without the copyright owner’s permission but left up by the owner’s choice. They are automatically recognized by YouTube, using a system called Content ID that scans videos and compares them to material provided by copyright owners.
YouTube shares the ad revenue garnered from such clips with their copyright owners. Those two billions views with ads alongside “are just 14 percent of the videos viewed each week,” but “that’s enough to turn YouTube profitable this year.”

In other words, piracy isn’t a big deal as long as (a) there’s advertising revenue, and (b) the copyright owner can trace the content and share in the revenue. Instead of just following us around, this technology is following around the content.

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